Eastbourne woman convicted of £5 million fraud

Court news.
Court news.

An Eastbourne fraudster who duped property investors out of more than £5 million by promising them impossible returns has been convicted following a prosecution by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division.

Sascha Morris, 46, was convicted of two counts of fraud and another of fraudulent trading following a trial at Leeds Crown Court. She will be sentenced on January 9.

The court heard how Morris, who used to live in Harrogate, persuaded UK investors to part with cash for off-plan properties in Cyprus by promising false returns on quick sales.

A CPS spokesperson said she also promoted non-existent relationships with holiday lettings firms said to be available to lease properties that were not sold.

Investors were encouraged to put money in at the start of projects on the basis that they could sell before they were completed. When buyers were not found and the projects neared completion, the investors were pursued for further payments that they had never expected to make, said the CPS.

In another part of the fraud, prosecutors said Morris sourced more than £2.6 million from two groups of investors to a company she claimed would finance property developments. Each group thought their investment was underpinned by the value of the company but was unaware that the other group was involved and would be entitled to half of that value. When the schemes failed, the vast majority of the money was lost.

Simon Higginbotham, specialist prosecutor from the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said: “Some of the investors targeted by Sascha Morris had to remortgage their homes or borrow large sums in order to raise money they had never expected to pay.

“Through careful analysis of the financial transactions the prosecution was able to demonstrate to the jury how Morris deliberately misled investors in order to achieve financial gain for herself.”

The conviction follows an investigation carried out by North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud Investigation Team.